In Montessori education, where child-led development highlights hands-on experience, the objects the child is exposed to play a significant role in helping him learn. Montessori toys and materials provide not only entertainment to the child, but more importantly, incorporate certain learning concepts, as the child engages with them through play.
For example, helping the child grasp the abstract idea of mathematics is reinforced through tangible and real objects that he can manipulate and learn from. There are many varieties of Montessori materials to suit different learning needs. Here are some Montessori toys that can develop your child’s number sense and help him grasp math concepts.
- Shape sorters. Children, as early as their toddler years, can be exposed to geometric concepts through Montessori toys like shape sorters. These allow them to identify, sort, and match shapes, all the while also establishing basic mathematical concepts as they play. The process of sorting teaches the child how to group similar objects and to compare them, an essential step in understanding numerical concepts as well as in developing their logical thinking.
- Sandpaper numbers. Maria Montessori believed in the role of sensorial learning and how it allows the child to understand certain concepts introduced to him. Through sandpaper numbers, the child learns that the symbol for a certain number is not only through sight but also by hearing it and feeling it (by way of tracing the symbols on the sandpaper).
- Spindle boxes. A fundamental mathematical concept can be introduced to the child through the use of wooden spindles. Fostering independence, this Montessori toy encourages counting and teaches the child units of quantity from zero to ten as he sorts the rods into their respective labelled compartments.
- Knobbed cylinders. Apart from developing fine motor skills, knobbed cylinders indirectly teach mathematical concepts while the child manipulates each block to find the correct fitting piece. These objects train the child’s eyes to recognize and learn about dimension, such as height and diameter.
- Number Cards and Counters. Another fun and interactive way for a child to learn about the relation between numbers and quantity, is with the use of number cards and counters. Using these materials in an activity that involves counting objects and matching the right quantity to the corresponding number not only encompasses the concept of counting but also introduces odd and even numbers.
- Fraction Puzzles. Learning about the concept of fractions through puzzles is another benefit derived from a Montessori toy. Through wooden fraction puzzles, the abstract idea of halves and a whole are literally brought to the hands of a child in a concrete and tangible manner.
- Short Bead Stair. These Montessori beads help introduce mathematical concepts such as representing the units one through nine and the use of one-to-one correspondence. Comprised of color-coded bean chains, the short bead stair also aids in associating the quantity to the respective number symbol.
- The Pink Tower. While this stack of blocks entices the child to work by putting the cubes one on top of each other, it also introduces to the child the concept of base ten, and prepares him for understanding mathematical cubed roots later on.
Author Bio: Rana Tarakji is an entrepreneur and a contributing writer at OneSEO, a digital marketing agency, who lives in Beirut, Lebanon. Rana Tarakji is passionate about digital marketing, startups, helping entrepreneurs grow, and empowering them to live their dreams. She has worked as a marketer, a technology co-founder and business developer, and a writer.
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